After writer Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in 2005 rather than live a life of declining health, actor Johnny Depp made sure he got his last wish. Depp paid about $2 million USD for a lavish event that included Thompson's ashes being shot from a cannon. Accompanied by Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," the private memorial included fireworks that launched Thompson's ashes into the sky.
On hand were 250 of Thompson's counterculture friends -- from John Kerry and George McGovern to Jack Nicholson and Bill Murray -- and the festivities included live music (Lyle Lovett, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and plenty of liquor to honor the 67-year-old writer, who had been at the forefront of "New Journalism" in the 1960s and 1970s. "All I'm doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true," said Depp, a close friend. "I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out."
The life and times of Hunter S. Thompson:
- Thompson may be best known for the 1972 classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In the 1998 film, Depp portrayed the "gonzo" author in the throes of debauchery.
- Thompson's career began to suffer after he was sent to Africa to cover "The Rumble in the Jungle" for Rolling Stone in 1974. Reportedly drunk at his hotel, he missed the boxing match and did not file a story -- causing an irreparable rift with publisher Jann Wenner.
- Thompson died at Owl Farm, his compound in Woody Creek, Colorado, from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. His son and his family were visiting that weekend, and were in the next room.